Hope everyone is having a great New Year’s eve! To wrap up the year, I thought I’d highlight our top 10 most viewed posts during 2012. Our first post ever remains our most viewed post!
Check out the list below and see if there are any you haven’t read yet.
Thanks for another great year and best wishes for the new year!
Another WWATD?! post wrapping up a Kdrama we finished a little while ago. Fear not, gentle readers, I have a solid excuse for our reduction in posts these days and will share it with you- as soon as I have a chance to post about it!
Sunnie and I started watching I Need Romance 2012 because we were looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy to help us relax at the end of long days. We hadn’t seen the original series and thought we’d just give it a try as no other dramas had really grabbed our attention. Very shortly after starting to watch, we almost stopped. The show was initially short on romance and on comedy, focusing instead on the passionate, frustrating, and ultimately destructive relationship between Joo Yeol Mae, played by Jung Yoo Mi and her longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend Yoon Suk Hyun, played by Lee Jin Wook. The two live together in a duplex that is more of a divided, single house that was left to them by their parents, and have dated and broken up with each other since they were in high school. The series starts with their moving from friends who are exes to friends “with benefits”, and Yeol Mae, who despite her denials wants more than this from Suk Hyun, quickly starts transitioning from her cheerful self to a frustrated, manipulative, and clinging woman, who is not very likeable, while Suk Hyun’s boyish charms soon seem more like dense immaturity.
As I mentioned, at this point, we were about ready to jump ship. Who needs the stress?! But we just couldn’t find another drama to pull us in, so we came back to give it another go and were very happy that we did. Yeol Mae soon finds herself drifting more and more towards a new man in her life, Shin Ji Hoon, played by Kim Ji Suk, who we last saw as the uber-annoying boy friend in Personal Taste. Here, he’s very likeable and brings the maturity that the other two in the love triangle seem to lack.
Additional characters also lighten things up as we get a very Sex In the Cityish trio of friends, with Yeol Mae’s friends Sun Jae Kyung, played by Kim Ji Woo, who is very much in the unapologetically sexy and devil-may-care Samantha role, and Woo Ji Hee, played by Kang Ye Sol, who plays the prim and proper Charlotte character. Things are further shaken up in Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s home when the younger Kang Na Hyun, played by Kim Ye Won, starts living with them while collaborating with Suk Hyun on a project, and unaware of the duo’s history together, starts to fall for him. Her character, kind of annoying in her youthful bluntness and awkwardness, really starts to grow on you as the series progresses.
While we never do get full on rom-com hilarity with this series, what we do get is a very interesting triangle of the three leads, who are all enjoyable to watch. It’s always interesting to me to see someone like Kim Ji Suk, who was so obnoxious and annoying in Personal Taste, get the chance to show he can be charming and likeable in a series like this. We’re currently watching him in Alice in Cheongdamdong as well. What you get with this show is a view of Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s long relationship, and all of its passions and frustrations, revealed as more and more is revealed as they peel back the layers. You know there is a strong love on both sides there, but what is that Suk Hyun knows that has kept him from ever being fully there for Yeol Mae but unable to let her go?
We really enjoyed this show. Unfortunately, like too many Kdramas, they just couldn’t nail the conclusion. It’s hard to think of many shows that do – I could count them on one hand, and I Need Romance 2012 is no different. Really enjoyable, building towards an interesting conclusion after episode after episode of hinting, innuendo, and back steps, and finally – eh, ok. Not horrible but not fully satisfying. Here, once again, it’s the main course that is the star and the dessert an afterthought. So because we so thoroughly enjoyed this series, we’re left again wishing for more and what could have been if they just could have nailed the ending! I Need Romance 2012 has solid acting throughout, and a very clever and unique photographic approach to the editing that really lends a nice touch and atmosphere to the series, particularly in the many flash backs to previous moments in Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s relationship. We liked the series enough to go and briefly check out the original I Need Romance, but, eh… not so much.
Several nice songs on the drama’s OST too. Somehow, some of the songs remind me in some way of my favorite Kdrama OST ever, Coffee Prince:
Success! I have finally managed a sandwich that Sunnie is excited about and asks for! I’m not a huge sandwich person, but I do have moments where nothing else will do. I’ve had a tougher time converting Sunnie to the simple joys of sandwiches. Short of putting together a kimchi and bap (rice) sandwich (hmm, might have to think about that ;P), she’d always been rather lukewarm on sandwiches. However, I think I finally got it right with this one – the classic BLT plus avocado. For some reason, BLT’s must appeal to the Asian palette as they have always been my mom’s favorite sandwich as well. This recipe is very easy and really hits the spot. We’ve been eating it all fall!
Vegan Shitake Mushroom Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Sandwich
1/2 Avocado, sliced
1-2 cups of dried, sliced shitake mushrooms, we usually use 1 heaping cup
lettuce, we use romaine
1 roma tomato, or 1/2 regular tomato, sliced
1/2 – 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of vegan sandwich bread
salt & pepper to taste (I use a pinch of salt and about 1/2 tsp of black pepper)
Vegan mayonnaise (we use Vegannaise) to taste
- Preheat oven to 35o degrees.
- Soak dried shitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes (you can also use fresh, just bake approximately twice as long).
- Using your hands, squeeze the water out of the soaked mushrooms.
- In a bowl, drizzle olive oil over the mushrooms, add salt and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly to coat.
- Spread mushrooms out on a baking sheet and bake for 20-35 minutes,checking occasionally, until crispy.
- If you are using regular tomatoes, remove seeds by slicing tomato in half horizontally and using your finger to push out seed pockets. Slice tomato and avocado (cut in half vertically, twist to separate, and then slice inside the shell, using a spoon or knife to remove slices).
- Toast your bread, spread mayo on, and assemble!
These sandwiches go great with a side of vegan mac and cheese, or a bowl of soup for a fantastic lunch & the recipe is easily doubled.
Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in warm or hot water for at least half an hour to soften them. We like to used dried, sliced shitake mushrooms because of their convenience (we always have a bag in the pantry for making japchae). Depending on how much “bacon” you like on your sandwich, you can go with 1-2 cups of dried mushrooms. Keep in mind that they will shrink down when roasting. I usually go with 1 heaping cup; but you can always munch on any that are leftover if you make more -yum! You could also used dried whole mushrooms and just slice them after soaking or use fresh – you’ll just have to bake longer. Make sure the mushrooms are not still tough and soak longer if necessary.
We like to use roma tomatoes, but regular tomatoes work just fine too if you remove the seeds. We also like romaine lettuce because it is so crisp, but any lettuce will do. Slicing your avocado vertically in the shell is an easy way to get nice slices that you can remove with a knife or spoon.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, in the weeks since I first blogged about Psy’s Gangnam Style blowing up, it has continued to grow in popularity (as evidenced by the above picture of Psy dancing with Britney and one of our favorite vegans, Ellen Degeneres). It’s really pretty crazy. I’ve watched NFL players doing the Gangnam Style dance after scoring touch downs. It’s been played coming back from commercial breaks during the football games. I’ve heard it on the radio. In Indiana. Korean being sung on regular Indiana radio stations – that’s just bizarre. As I was telling my father-in-law, you just don’t hear foreign-language music being played on mainstream US radio. My mom watches Dancing with the Stars, and they featured Gangnam Style as a dance on there. Even my friend’s young son said he knew the song because they were dancing to it in gym class at school. It’s everywhere, and Psy is everywhere, appearing in Korea and the US every week and appearing with celebrity after celebrity. I’m sure the man is exhausted, but with the song reaching number 2 on the Billboard charts, he’s taking full advantage of his surprising opportunity. And, he’s never too tired to bring it when he performs. Just check out this crazy scene of his performance for 80,000 fans at Seoul’s city hall!
But with Gangnam Style gaining its popularity through the viral music video, it’s of no surprise that it has also spawned a ton of viral parodies that are also a blast. I’ve watched so many, from the University of Oregon duck, to US merchant marine cadets, to dancing knights from the video game, Skyrim,. Even the 7’2″ center of my Indianapolis Pacers, Roy Hibbert, did a small Gangnam Style flash mob with some of his fans in Indy’s Circle Center Mall! However, while many are good, I have some definite favorites. So with no further ado, here are the top 3 Gangnam Style parodies!
#3. 8-bit Gangnam Style
Since I grew up playing 8-bit video games, I have to give props to the excellent reproduction of Gangnam Style!
#2. Hitler Gangnam Style
This is a classic, as this clip of a movie about Hitler has been endlessly used on the Internet to complain about movies, sporting event outcomes, and everything else. I thought it was brilliant and hilarious how they mixed this to have him singing to Gangnam Style!
and the #1 Gangnam Style parody is, what else? Vegan Gangnam Style!!!!!
I just love the lyrics to this – totally hilarious!
I hope you enjoyed these Gangnam Style parodies. What are your favorites?
Bill and I watched the Kimchi Chronicles on Hulu, a documentary series about Korean cuisine, and Marja and Jean-George were just delightful to watch. Their love for food and fun really makes you want to cook! Bill and I really enjoyed the Bean Chronicle episode, mainly because, they featured a lot of vegan friendly recipes. In that episode, Jean-George teases Marja about making Korean Mung Bean Pancakes every week ever since she learned to cook them, and Marja admits how much she loves them. So we were inspired to make some for ourselves. We used to make them from mix that we get from the Korean grocery store, but really, it is so much better if you make it from scratch, and it is so easy! Here you go!
Vegan Korean Mung Bean Pancakes Recipe
1 cup split mung beans
1/6 cup rice
1 cup sliced kimchi and sliced veggies (traditionally fern bracken or mung bean sprouts, but any veggies will do)
1/2 cup kimchi juice
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp of gochugaru red pepper powder
1/4 cup of sesame oil
1. Soak the mung beans and rice overnight or for 4-5 hours. Drain and rinse.
2. Add the soaked mung beans and rice along with the kimchi juice, salt, black pepper, gochugaru and sesame oil in a food processor and process it so it becomes a creamy texture.
3. Put the batter into a bowl and add the sliced kimchi and veggies. Mix well.
4. Heat the pan to medium high heat and add oil.
5. Once the oil is hot, make small rounds of pancakes and cook until brown, flipping once to brown both sides. They are better when it’s slightly crispy!
Sauce ingredients (optional):
1 Tbs soy sauce
Pinch of Korean pepper powder
Pinch of sesame seeds
Drizzle of apple cider vinegar
Sliced green onions
Enjoy! These are addictive!
Usually, I try to get my WWATD?! posts in while we’re still watching a series and before it ends, but we wrapped up Answer Me 1997 weeks ago. Still, by waiting until the end (ok, I’ve been really busy…), I get to give a wholehearted instead of a wait-and-see recommendation for this drama.
I picked out this drama to watch because I thought it would likely be a lot of fun for Sunnie and her memories of high school. It follows six Busan high school friends, starting with their high school reunion now and flashing back to their senior year in 1997. While it was a couple of years off from Sunnie’s senior year in high school, it was close, so I thought it would have likely touch on a lot of fond memories for her, and it certainly did. She was able to give me a lot of insights into some inside jokes (the series is full of them) that wink at big events from that time.
The series is very focused initially on Sung Shi Won, played by A Pink’s Jung Eun Ji, and her complete obsession with the Kpop boy group, H.O.T.. A Busan-girl herself, Eun Ji is a a newcomer to dramas and doesn’t provide a huge range in her acting, but this small range actually works very well with Sung Shi Won’s character. Shi Won is first and foremost a super fan. She gets horrible grades and skips school to hear H.O.T., and particularly Tony Ahn (who makes an appearance as himself), on the radio, to watch them on TV, and to travel to see them. She goes farther and farther in her obsession with Tony, even stalking him at times. Honestly, while this was a bit amusing, it was totally another world for Sunnie and me, as neither of us have let our obsessions run quite so extreme. Shi Won is blunt, no nonsense, and not averse to kicking a boy in the shins or getting in a fist fight with the fan of another Kpop boy group. Her sly grin and simplicity are endearing, and like I said, her limited emotional range is a big part of her character.
The other lead is Yoon Yoon Jae, played by Seo In Guk (winner of the singing competition Superstar K). Yoon Jae has lost both of his parents and is now raised by his older brother, Yoon Tae Woong, played by Song Jong Ho who we last saw as a villain in The Princess’ Man. Tae Woong is good at everything and so they use him, in Forest Gump fashion, to wink at all sorts of Korean history, from the creation of the super popular social networking platform Cyworld, to the current presidential race. Yoon Jae is one of the best students and athletes in the high school. Shi Won’s parents, who were best friends with his parents, have helped look after Yoon Jae and his brother for years. So while Yoon Jae has a crush on Shi Won, she views him as a brother. Yoon Jae is known for his sometimes being cold and almost heartless in his focus. The drama sets up a love triangle very early and is hilarious in dangling the carrot of finding out how it ends throughout the series. In the modern scenes, you find out that Shi Won is pregnant, and they tease you with not knowing whether her husband is Yoon Jae, or his brother Tae Woong. Episode after episode sets up ridiculous shots where someone is talking about her husband and a noise in the bar covers up his name, or some such nonsense. It’s a lot of fun how the series is so blatant and mocking about their devices.
We get another couple when a new student from Seoul arrives, Do Hak Chan, played by Eun Ji Won. Hak Chan is liked by the girls for being cool and by the boys for his large stash of porn. He is an expert at splicing together sex scenes from various VHS movies and passing them around to his fellow students. This is another example of the brashness of the series, as they have a hilarious scene of him waiting with anticipation as line by line a nude picture is downloaded over his dial-up modem connection. Despite his porn obsession, Hak Chan is hopeless with girls and freezes up anytime one of them touches him. Shi Won’s best friend, Mo Yoo Jung, played by Shin So Yool, takes a quick liking to him. Yoo Jung is known as being rather fickle with her affections, and big drama occurs early in the series when she takes a secret liking to H.O.T.’s biggest adversaries, the boy group Sechskies, and in particular, to Eun Ji Won. Yes, that Eun Ji Won, so the series has Eun Ji Won playing a boy who dates a girl obsessed with Eun Ji Won, and they have a lot of repeated jokes about this dynamic. Yoo Jung is funny and sweet and hopelessly bosses Hak Chan around. Hak Chan’s deadpan face and expressions are spot-on. Really, the entire cast does a great job with their characters.
The drama as a whole is really just such a joy to watch. It’s fluffy fun and one of the easiest dramas to watch in years. Let’s face it, the lives of high school kids are often filled with drama, that is by and large ridiculous, and this is a great walk through a history that today’s 30-somethings can look at fondly. Before wrapping up, I wanted to touch on a few more characters and actors who help make the show. Kang Joon Hee, played by INFINITE’s Hoya, is perhaps the first gay character in a Kdrama that I’ve seen who’s been given a completely straight (no pun intended) deal of the cards. What I mean, is typically, these dramas shy away from homosexuality, or if they have it, they cover it up with gender-bending, or hijinks, like one character pretending to be gay in order to be able to scope out a house, as in Personal Taste (although, we had a wonderful, honest portrayal of a gay man in that show, but it was a small character). Here, we have a main character in the show, Joon Hee, who is in love with his best friend, Yoon Jae. Maybe they felt it would be less controversial because of the boys’ ages and that people might see it as a crush, but for whatever reason, the writers give a very straightforward, unfiltered portrayal of Joon Hee’s love of his friend, and how he ultimately knows it can’t be fulfilled, but nonetheless, he can’t let go of it. Kudos to the writers, the director, and the actor, Hoya, who does a fine job with a very likeable character that you can’t help but feel empathy for.
Finally, I also wanted to highlight Shi Won’s dad, Sung Dong Il. We’ve previously watched him be completely goofy in a number of shows, such as Lovers in Paris and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, but he was a riot here. His rage at Shi Won’s fan obsession and their endless fighting is funny, and his tender portrayal of the sorrows of his life make the show more than just farce. The only thing that irked me about this show at all, was the overuse of a bleating goat as a laugh track. Laugh tracks bug me as if something is funny, you shouldn’t need a cue to tell you that it’s supposed to be funny. Answer Me 1997 is funny and the constant bleating at every funny part was only a distraction. I highly recommend this drama. We raced through it, and it was just a joy to watch!
Bill and I love bulgogi tempeh, bulgogi seitan and bulgogi soy curls. But these recipes do need a bit of planning, and sometimes I am just too swamped with work or other fun things to plan ahead for a meal. Often times, that’s when I am just really craving some bulgogi flavor! So during the years of being a Korean vegan, I have invented a quick bulgogi mushroom recipe that can be prepared in a couple of minutes. I’ve never seen anyone do it this way, but I really think it is the easiest way to satisfy the bulgogi flavor cravings. I think the enoki mushrooms with the bulgogi flavor is just spot on and so yummy. I often put it over rice like bulgogi- dupbap (over rice dish), or I eat it with some lettuce and gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) or ssamjang (wrap paste) like any bulgogi style dish. Having it as a part of a larger banchan spread works really well too. Really quick and easy and soooo yummy!
Vegan Bulgogi Style Mushrooms Recipe
about 4 packs of Enoki mushrooms (you don’t have to only use enoki mushrooms, but it’s important to have them in there as they form the main flavor for the dish)
10 dashes of onion powder (or to taste)
10 dashes of garlic powder (or to taste)
salt to taste
15 dashes of black pepper (or to taste)
1 Tbs of soy sauce (or to taste)
1 Tbs of sesame oil (optional)
1/2 Tbs of sugar
1. Wash the enoki mushrooms and cut off the ends. Tear the mushrooms into bite sizes.
2. Heat the pan to medium high heat and add the veggie oil. Add the enoki mushrooms.
3. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil if you decide to use it. Add more or less to your liking.
4. Cook until enoki mushrooms are cooked and wilted. You’ll see some water coming out of the mushrooms (so yummy, we love putting it over our rice).
5. Enjoy! It’s such an easy way to enjoy the traditional Korean bulgogi flavor. Really quick and easy and soooo yummy.